A RETIRED Army major may never be released from hospital after he stabbed his wife to death at their home in Durrington.

Leonard Webb, 69, was sentenced this morning by Mr Justice Dingemans who made a hospital order under the Mental Health Act (MHA) saying he will not be released while he remains a danger to the public.

Webb killed his wife of 40 years, Doreen, on April 18, 2014, by using a knife he had picked up in the kitchen at the couple’s home in Avondown Road.

Calling the police at 1.44pm he said: “I’ve just killed my wife”, later telling a police officer that he didn’t know why he had done it and that he was on anti-depressants.

Emergency services were called to the scene but Mrs Webb died a short while later.

In January Webb appeared in court to plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Sentencing him at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Dingemans said psychiatrists reports agreed that at the time of the killing, Webb was suffering from severe depression, which “substantially impaired and reduced his mental responsibility”.

He said: “It is apparent from victim impact statements that Mrs Webb was a much loved mother, grandmother and friend, and that your actions have had a devastating impact on Mrs Webb’s and your children and grandchildren.”

The court heard that the father-of-three, who joined the army as an apprentice, began suffering from mental health difficulties in 1989 while working in Oman.

He had previously suffered malaria and when home on leave attempted to commit suicide before being admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with depression and given antidepressants and electro convulsive therapy.

Over the next 25 years he went onto suffer numerous relapses, not taking his medication and attempting suicide on several occasions.

He took redundancy from the army in 1994 and went onto run a stall on the regular antiques market in the Shambles market hall in Devizes selling military memorabilia.

In the days and weeks leading up to last April, Webb reported to his surgery his concern over his severely deteriorating mental health, as did his wife, and the South Wiltshire Intensive Mental Health Service visited the couple every day from April 14 to April 18, which was Good Friday.

The court heard that hospital admission was discussed and it was agreed the intensive team would return on Bank Holiday Monday.

Webb was left at 12.30pm on April 18 and it was following that visit that he killed his wife.

Judge Dingemans said he was satisfied that Webb was suffering from a mental disorder, “namely depression, which is severe” and that appropriate treatment was available for him in hospital.

He said: “It appears to be common ground from everyone who has been involved with the case that detention in a hospital is the most suitable method of disposing of the case.

“However in my judgement you are also a real danger to the public. This is because you have shown, over the years, that you can cease taking your medication and relapse into very severe depression and that, in that state, you are capable of killing, even those most close to you.

“The evidence shows that you might never be released from the combined MHA hospital order and restriction order.”

He added: “I should like to pay tribute to the dignified way in which the family of Doreen Webb, which is your family too, have listened to the proceedings today.”

In a statement released by the Webb’s son, Chris, on behalf of the family he said: “Being here today marks another milestone on the tragic journey we’ve had to endure. On the 18th of April 2014, our mother was killed by a single stab wound to the chest, inflicted by our father.

“Our mother was the most caring, loving and supporting person you could meet. She thrived on being there to support and send time with the people she loved. Her love for her family was unquestionable. We miss her terribly and will do so for the rest of our lives.

“We would like to thank the emergency services who attended the scene on April 18. We appreciate all the efforts made by paramedics and then the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Service. Now we want to find some peace and start trying to accept and understand our situation. Hopefully we can now work towards this.”